(Reuters) - The following are key excerpts of a statement on Friday by David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, which won the most parliamentary seats in Thursday’s election but fell short of an overall majority:
“Britain voted for change yesterday. But it also voted for a new politics. It did not vote for party political bickering, grandstanding and point-scoring. Our country’s problems are too serious, they are too urgent for that.
“So we must all rise to this occasion ...
“(Liberal Democrat leader) Nick Clegg has said that, because the Conservative Party won the most votes and the most seats in this election, we should have the chance to form the government. And I thank him for that.
“So we will now begin talks with other parties, to see how that can be done. One option would be to give other parties reassurances about certain policy areas and then seek their agreement to allow a minority Conservative government to continue in office without the country constantly facing the threat of its government falling ...
“It has been done before and yes, we can try to do it again. But I am prepared to consider alternative options.
“It may be possible to have stronger, more stable, more collaborative government than that. There is a case for going further than an arrangement which simply keeps a minority Conservative government in office.
“So I want to make a big, open and comprehensive offer to the Liberal Democrats. I want us to work together in tackling our country’s big and urgent problems — the debt crisis, our deep social problems and our broken political system ...
“On the basis of the election result we achieved, it is reasonable to expect that the bulk of the policies in our manifesto should be implemented.
“But across our two manifestos there are many areas of common ground.
“We both agree that Labour’s jobs tax, as the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto puts it, is a damaging tax on jobs and we would seek to reverse it.
“On our political system, we agree with the Liberal Democrats that reform is urgently needed to help restore trust, and that reform must include the electoral system. The Liberal Democrats have their ideas, we have ours.
“I believe we will need an all-party committee of inquiry on political and electoral reform.
“I think we have a strong basis for a strong government.”
“Inevitably the negotiations we are about to start will involve compromise.”
“No government will be in the national interest unless it deals with the biggest threat to our national interest, and that is the deficit. We remain completely convinced that starting to deal with the deficit this year is essential.
“The new government must grip this deficit and prevent the economic catastrophe that will result from putting off the difficult and the urgent action that needs to be taken.
“Our big, open and comprehensive offer to the Liberal Democrats involves helping them to implement key planks of their election manifesto, providing the country with economic as well political stability and finding further ways in which Liberal Democrats can be involved in making this happen.
“I hope we can reach agreement quickly on the big, open and comprehensive offer that I’ve outlined today.”
Editing by Kevin Liffey